Tag Archives: military

martinet

    MEANING   a person who maintains strict discipline, especially in a military force     ORIGIN   This noun is from the name of Jean Martinet (died 1672), whose biography is as follows in A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East (2010), edited by Spencer C. […]

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péniche

péniche

  ‘péniches’ in Paris – photograph: JLPC/Wikimedia Commons       Nowadays, the French feminine noun péniche denotes a barge. It was borrowed in the early 19th century from English pinnace with the following English meanings: – a small rowed boat forming part of the equipment of a warship or other large vessel; – a small light vessel […]

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trumpery

    MEANINGS   – attractive articles of little value or use – practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth     ORIGIN   The noun trumpery, which appeared in the mid-15th century, is from French tromperie, meaning deception, trickery. This was one of the original […]

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to spike (some)one’s guns

    MEANING   to thwart (some)one’s plans     ORIGIN   In order to render a gun unserviceable, one fills up its touch-hole with a metal spike. For instance, in A true and full relation of the prosecution, arraignment, tryall, and condemnation of Nathaniel Fiennes, late colonell and governor of the city and castle […]

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ball and chain

    The expression ball and chain appeared in the USA to denote a heavy metal ball secured by a chain to a person’s leg to prevent escape or as a punishment. Nile’s Weekly Register (Baltimore) of 12th December 1818 published the minutes of the proceedings of a court martial which convicted Robert Christy Ambrister […]

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Froggy

  And I saw three vncleane spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, & out of the mouth of the beast, & out of the mouth of the false prophet. Book of Revelation, 16:13 (King James Version - 1611)     MEANING   (informal and derogatory): a French person     ORIGIN […]

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one over the eight

    I suppose it wasn’t often that the boys of Market Snodsbury Grammar School came across a man public-spirited enough to call their head master a silly ass, and they showed their appreciation in no uncertain manner. Gussie may have been one over the eight, but as far as the majority of those present […]

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in Dicky’s meadow

    MEANING   This phrase was explained in the column Day to Day in Liverpool, in The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury of Monday 20th March 1916: When a Liverpool warehouseman’s clerk, a man born and educated in mid-Lancashire, was asked, on Saturday, if his employer could rearrange his stock of goods in a […]

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one’s pigeon

  The development of trading contacts between Britain and China led to the emergence in 19th-century China of a trading language consisting of basic English and some Chinese grammatical forms. In this hybrid language, pidgin was derived from, and originally meant, business. (The phonetic development was perhaps via an intermediate form /pidginiss/ (with replacement of […]

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doryphore

doryphore

  “Death to the Doryphores” is slogan of schoolchildren off for potato-bug catching. In France “doryphores” is nickname for food-grabbing Germans, who love potatoes. from Vichy vs. France, by Richard de Rochemont – magazine Life, 1st September 1941       The French noun doryphore denotes the Colorado beetle, a yellow-and-black beetle native to America, […]

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